Monthly Archives: July 2015

Ledbury Poetry Festival – The Launch of ‘Queen, Jewel, Mistress’ by Ruth Stacey

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I made it to Ledbury Poetry Festival this year for Poetry and Cider with Ruth Stacey, Lesley Ingram and Sarah James

ledbury PF

From the brochure;

Three poets based in the West Midlands celebrate the launch their new collections. Ruth Stacey’s  Queen, Jewel, Mistress gives voice to every English/British queen from Anglo-Saxon times to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. Lesley Ingram’s Scumbled is ‘A haunting collection (which) explores the brackishness of human relations, the kinship we crave with the non-human, and our desire to trade flesh for something less encumbering’ (Damian Walford-Davies). Sarah James’s The Magnetic Diaries takes the form of a narrative in poems, loosely based on the characters and storyline of Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. Sarah James also has a collection plenty-fish with Nine Arches Press.

Ledbury Poetry Festival Programme © 2015

It was a wonderful evening in Burgage Hall, which was packed out with poets supporting these three great women. A great atmosphere and touching readings. What was particularly special was the gratitude Ruth showed Ledbury Festival, over the years she has gained lots from being involved in the programme and appreciated the input from workshops and coaching she has had, as well as previous opportunities to perform at the Festival. It is lovely and authentic when poets take a moment to acknowledge and thank people, for what they have done and how they have influenced and helped.

Diane Perry © 2015

Diane Perry © 2015

There is no greater feeling for the poet than to know you are supported and mentoring and guides are priceless treasures.

The event was a great success, it was lovely to hear Lesley perform her poetry and Sarah James too. I enjoyed sharing the moment with Ruth Stacey and her glee was mesmerising and contagious! I don’t think I have ever seen her look so happy. A magical night in Ledbury.

queen book

You can buy your own copy of this great collection from the following places;

BUY IT

RELATED LINKS

http://www.worcester.ac.uk/discover/worcester-graduate-launches-new-work-at-countrys-biggest-poetry-festival.html

www.ruthstacey.com

http://ruthstacey.com/all-the-long-gone-queens/

Now it is my turn to thank Ruth for one of the sweetest messages I have received at a signing. Thank you.

Review of the Month – July

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ww me If July was a race it would be 100 metre sprint, if it was weather it would be a full on 30 degrees (I am from the UK), July was like the best day ever groundhogged over and over!

Busy, full and delightful.

Was it all Roses?

There were a few dips, loss of confidence in my writing but I am learning that self-belief isn’t a constant and that all artists feel this way sometimes. So, rather like my illness in the early days – I am choosing acceptance. It is better to admit defeat, say this is the way I feel today, so what can I do that will create more time for writing another day. Anything from the TO DO list, which is huge this summer, as I am attempting to unpack the house (finally), deep cleaning as I go.

Write Daily

I am a firm believer in this action and I DO. Even on a dip day some writing will have been created – that is how a dip day is spawned, it doesn’t come from not writing. Besides I had 10-15years of not-writing. If you want to be a runner, you may have a day when you do a quick power walk and some pilates, but I am sure you wouldn’t stop altogether. Even on the non-training days they are devouring everything they can about their chosen goal.

LET IT GO

I have talked about Elsa moments before on this blog. I missed a few submission opportunities this month because I couldn’t key into what the writing required. I am currently working on a big project and that is taking the focus when I am working – and so it should. I have tried to make submissions with work I have already collecting dust.

eastbourne

JULY

I was still on holiday, basking in heat and oceans at the beginning of July. As soon as I was home the run of poetry events kicked in.

 

WEEK 1

Magnetic Diaries A wonderful Poetry Play at The Courtyard, Hereford.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/07/20/the-magnetic-diaries-poetry-play-including-micro-interview-with-author/

Rhyme with Reason A great open mic night in Birmingham.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/birminghams-growing-poetry-rhyme-with-reason/

Poetry Lounge A fantastic night in Ludlow.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/07/24/poetry-lounge-in-the-sitting-room-july-7th/

Ledbury Cider with Poets Ruth Stacey Book Launch

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/07/31/ledbury-poetry-festival-the-launch-of-queen-jewels-mistress-by-ruth-stacey/

Quiet Compere Tour Worcester Stop 6 A great event to be involved in, 1 of 10 poets.

sarahnina lewisNeil LaurensonMyfanwy FoxMike AlmaJasmine Gardosiclive deeCarl SealeafClaire WalkerCatherine CrosswellAdrian Mealing Sarah Dixon © 2015

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/08/01/quiet-compere-tour-2015-stop-6-worcester/

Then after this run of events I found myself exhausted. I was working full time too. I spent the whole weekend sleeping and unfortunately missed the 52 Picnic and reading in Stratford-Upon-Avon at the Poetry Festival. A great shame as this was something I was looking forward to for a long time.

The Pangaea Slam a wonderful poetry competition I discovered in 2014, this year I posted a video in WEEK 1, unfortunately since then I have been busy with writing projects and life and have not managed to complete this event. It is now on my hit list for next year.

 

WEEK 2

After a weekend of sleep, I was ready to go again and as it was the last week of term, I had less work to do and more energy to play (all my poetry work is play).

Ten Letters was an amazing experience, Poetry Theatre at its best. A wonderful collective.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/08/01/ten-letters/

10 letters 2

Walsall Caldmore Community Garden Workshop with David Calcutt. This workshop was great, the tools of the job was our starting point, due to the weather we spent most of our time writing in The Bakehouse, a wonderful artisan café in town. There were some interesting pieces that came out of this workshop, not to mention the gorgeous food at The Bakehouse and the help yourself bookcase!

In the evening I went to Mouth & Music where the theme (thanks to Gary Longden) was inventions that never made it – the hardest theme I have ever had to write for. I tried to write a poem in the hour I had between the workshop and M&M, it was still in scratch stage but will be developed. It was a great night.

MM July me Peter Williams © 2015

At the weekend I was heading to Shropshire for Writing Down the Dingle, a writing workshop facilitated by Jean Atkin. I had to pull out of this workshop as we had a college reunion the same day – a group of Drama students that haven’t seen each other for 20 years, which was fabulous and a great start to the summer holidays.

 

WEEK 3

I started to focus on writing, I am still editing a collection and now have a couple of new projects to work on from Walsall. I started working on my 1st poetry sequence for 42 for ‘Island of Lost Souls’, I started with black out poetry based on a page of HG Wells. From there I edited and extended the sequence, keeping the archaic language of the original text. In the end the sequence was 5 poems long and following positive feedback I might make it a flash fiction piece.

It was also the Walsall Festival this week, originally an event that was planned got cancelled but I did get to a workshop at Walsall Arboretum facilitated by Jimmie Rennie and David Calcutt, which was great fun.

Photography Janet Jenkins © 2015

swanslakebandstand

writing cafe

 

Followed by a reading at The Bakehouse. It amazed me how different all of our writing was from the stimulus of the lake.

bakehouse

sammy Sammy jimmieJimmie me Nina

janet Janet david David

1benBen 1andyAndy

1 nethNeth

 

In the evening I performed at The Sun at The Station for Arts All Over the Place at the Madhatter Charity Fundraiser. Rachel Green booked me for this event a month ago, having opened the festival for them last year. I was delighted to be asked, although I wasn’t sure which poems to perform. It was a great event and well attended – a great fundraiser, such a success that they are considering making it a bi-monthly event.

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Rachel Green © 2015

rg1rgRachel Green Sammyme rachel

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Howard Atkins © 2015

I took some bookings for August Headlines, diary is now booked up to October.
WEEK 4

I had an amazing night at Shakti Women Womanly Words event. Lots of great performances and a touching experience. It was the first of a schedule of events planned for this summer.

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42 Drummonds was a great event, my sequence of poetry went down well and we all got to say goodbye to Math Jones, who is off to the smog of our Capital City.

And since then I have chained myself back to my virtual desk to continue writing.

©Murdock Ramone Media

©Murdock Ramone Media

SUBMISSIONS

I have sent 4 submissions this month, I am waiting to hear the results and keeping my fingers crossed as always!

 

It has been an amazing month. Made more spectacular by the fact that my (unpaid) summer holidays started 2 weeks ago and since then I have been in my poetry skin and I still have 6 weeks to go. This is my holiday, being my poet self!

Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room -July 7th

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Nadia Kingsley & Keith Chandler at The Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room with Jean Atkin, Ludlow – 7th July

Still catching up with blog posts for events in time past – so a couple of weeks ago (7th July) I went to Ludlow to see Nadia Kingsley and Keith Chandler headline at The Poetry Lounge – with Jean Atkin, in the new home – still in the Sitting Room – it was quite funny imagining the venue with legs trundling across town.

poetry lounge july

A lovely new venue it is too and as we have the upstairs room we have less ambient noise to contend with than before. The Blue Boar was fairly easy to find, central and is a lovely pub.

blue boar© 2015 Shropshire Star

Nadia Kingsley was headlining back in January and sadly wasn’t well enough back then. She was on top form on Tuesday night though. I was invited to headline in her place, back in January (my first headline slot) with Bert Flitcroft, so I was doubly glad I managed to catch Nadia’s performance.

It was also great to discover Keith Chandler, I am almost certain I have come across him on this Poetry Odyssey at some point. I bought his pamphlet, ‘The Grandpa Years’, published by Fair Acre, a gorgeous little publication that Nadia said reminded her of the sort of pocket size books some granddad’s carry around with them. I had a brief conversation about Poetry with Keith and I was grateful because there were a lot of people who wanted to talk to him.

Bootie july I bought the latest copy of Robert Harper’s brilliant magazine BARE FICTION too.

It was a great night! Shropshire oozes talent and I hadn’t been able to get back up to see people for so long that on a social level alone it was a phenomenal night and the following evening Jean and I were both going to Ledbury Poetry Festival too. I always get that ‘Christmas Eve’ feeling when there are back to back events with the same poetry friends, almost like the pre- sleep-over excitement of a child. Guess I am still a child!

Here’s what Jean Atkin said about the Guest Poets;

We’re so pleased that Nadia Kingsley will be reading for us as a Guest Poet. Nadia has performed at Wenlock Poetry Festival in 2011, 2012, and 2014 – and is published in the anthologies of each of these years. Her poetry has been published in Orbis magazine, Poetry Cornwall, the environmental anthology We’re all in this together (Offa’s Press), and Ink, Sweat and Tears. She managed and wrote poems for the fabulous show ‘Expanding the Universe’ which has been touring the West Midlands this spring.

She’s won prizes for her flash fiction and short stories and her photography, textile art and brick sculpture have been exhibited in the Cotswolds, Birmingham, Brighton and London.

Nadia also runs the very successful Fair Acre Press.

© 2015 Jean Atkin

Nadia is a gem of the poetry world and I always enjoy hearing and reading her work. This set took us through the seasons and plants which play an important role at throughout the year. Segments from a bigger artistic collaboration she has been working on.

Our other Guest Poet for July will be Keith Chandler, who has many awards, accolades and publications to his name, not least being 4th in the National Poetry Competition a couple of years ago. His most recent book is the very well received ‘The Grandpa Years’ from Fair Acre Press. Keith is a very modest poet, so if you haven’t heard him, you’re really in for a treat. It’s fine work, brimming with humanity. And then there is that bone-dry, self-deprecating humour.

© 2015 Jean Atkin

It was a wonderful reading and there was not a person in the room really who couldn’t associate with the resonating emotion and family connections he explored in his pamphlet.

As always there was also abundant talent from the open mic slots shared by;

 graham rob

Graham Attenborough

Adrian Perks adrian rob

Gaia-Rose Harper Gaia-Rose Harper

Nina Lewis (me)me rob 

We managed to convince Jean Atkin to share one with us too.

jean robJean Atkin

Steve Harrisonsteve h rob

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Photography © 2015 Robert Harper

Steve Griffithsjean steve G

jean  Miriam Crane Obrey

Miriam Crane Obrey

Photography © 2015 Jean Atkin

Robert Harper Robert adrian

Photography © 2015 Adrian Perks

 plus a short slot for Helen Barratt, read by John Barratt,

jean audience keith rob

Keith Chandler Photography © 2015 Robert Harper Nadia Adrian Perks

Nadia Kingsley Photography © 2015 Adrian Perksnadia robert

Photography © 2015 Robert Harper

jean keith

Photography © 2015 Jean Atkin

jean Nadia

Photography © 2015 Jean Atkin

jean PL

A superb evening – and of course now I have time to look forward to the next one – where I will (once again) be seeing John Hegley – who I believe has transformed into some sort of bus – having not seen him for 18 years and then 3 times in 4 months!

Birmingham’s Growing Poetry & Rhyme With Reason

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GROWING POETRY SCENE IN AN ALREADY VIBRANT CITY

In the past quarter there has been an influx of new talent in the city, young, talented and ambitious poets have taken a bite of the poetry scene, chewed it and decided they can also provide a delicious event for the rest of the city to chow down on… and they are not frightened to get everyone involved either, driven by spirit and desire over three new events have practically popped up overnight (of course, this isn’t true, beneath the tip of the iceberg (success) lies all the hard work and decision making)!

This post started out as a review of the Launch of Rhyme With Reason – Nicole Murphy’s new night of Spoken Word, in composing the opening paragraph I realised how much new poetry (events and performers) have sprung up in 2015 and how many of us get the opportunity to share with a new audience because of it.

So in case you are not from this wonderful middleland let me share with you the new gems and masters!

HOWL – Leon Priestnall – The Sun at The Station – Kingsheath

I met Leon in 2014 at Word Up, where he came and supported the acts and shared waffles and drinks with the poets. I remember talking to him about writing the first and second times our paths crossed. For a while he was a poet who didn’t perform (at least not at the events I saw him attend) and he was even existing without social media because I remember one of his first poetry videos doing the rounds in an experiment of exposure over social networking.

Anyway long story short he is a fine performance poet who has filled many Guest Spots this year all over the city and has also started his very own eclectically brilliant, beat inspired, spoken word night. The Sun at The Station first made it onto my radar with there UNPLUGGED nights every Sunday and although I saw lots of the Birmingham poets performing I thought it was primarily a music event and I am never sure how well my poetry stands on those stages, I have in the past – but I feel this time my writing has changed.

It wasn’t long before Leon had the venue pegged and created his own night HOWL Feat – which (due to other commitments) I wasn’t able to make in the early days. I have made it to two events, both superb and am Headlining along with others in August.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/3-in-a-row-mouth-music-howl-speakeasy-a-week-of-events/

©Murdock Ramone Media

©Murdock Ramone Media

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysVRsytlFpo

Leon Priestnall is a poet, writer and performer based in the West Midlands. Leon’s work battles back and forth between the personal and the observational, the angsty and the humorous but is always accessible. Leon has performed at various venues around the Midlands ranging from music events to burlesque. He was a runner up in the 2007 Spiel Unlimited Solihull Poetry Slam and has released two spoken word EPs in collaboration with musician Dan Hartland. He now runs spoken word night Howl at the Sun at the Station, Kings Heath.

STIRCHLEY SPEAKS – Jess Davies at the P Café, Stirchley.

SS Jess Davies

©Murdock Ramone Media

Jess Davies, who I first met through the 52 Project 2014 kicked new life off by discovering a pocket of Birmingham starved of words and brought Stirchley Speaks to the P Café. I was delighted to be at the launch night in May, missed June as I was away on holiday and am performing there in August.

http://www.pcafe.co.uk/poetry/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/06/10/poetry-wrap-5-a-brief-introduction-on-exhaustion/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCePHIIkNtY

http://jessmaydavies.tumblr.com/

Jess Davies is a Midlands based artist who dabbles in both the contemporary arts Scene and the Poetry scene. She was recently commissioned to write a poem for the museums at night tour at the local pen museum. Her writing is personal, heart wrenching, observational, heart wrenching, surreal and humorous. She currently runs Stirchley Speaks at the P Cafe in Stirchley.

LOUD MOUTH – Frankie Ryan, The Bond Co. Digbeth

SS Ryan

Frankie Ryan (a.k.a Ryan Murray)

©Murdock Ramone Media

I was on holiday and missed the launch of this event, I have heard good things and it is one for the future diary!

Loud Mouth

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfHbUmoPYic
Frankie Ryan is a poet, photographer and spoken word artist. He has performed regularly around the Birmingham scene. His first published piece ‘freedom lament’ launched the Birmingham book club section in Nubi Magazine back in may. July 3rd will see the launch of his own spoken word night ‘loud mouth’ and his first poetry collection ‘beyond your line of sight’ will be available later this year.

RHYME WITH REASON – Nicole Murphy, Alfie Birds, Digbeth

Nicole Murphy’s new night was my initial reason for this post, the launch night was phenomenally well attended and the performers came from as far as Bristol, the audience was a great mix – so many new faces to us all, which is what we hope with poetry events really – that Spoken Word filters out and gets reborn. It certainly did on Monday 6th July!

rhyme with reason It was a fantastic night including free cake and raffle tickets (for a Waterstones gift card), great performers and a brilliant venue. It was the start of a busy run of events for me and it was a great start, I left pumped full of adrenaline and was pleased to have met and watched Hannah Teasdale in action, as she headlined Word Up the same night I was performing for the first time in London – I am back there this summer, at the Poetry Café no less!

RWR started on the back foot, I had a particularly tiring day at work, arrived flustered and late in the city, had to park further away than I wanted to – but within minutes of the night kicking off I was there, back in my body and mind and enjoying life. A great first night!

Pangaea

Pangaea

Nicole Murphy

Up and coming poet from Walsall. Her poetry combines humour and powerful emotion. She has been a regular on the Birmingham scene for a while now but has recently started her own night ‘Rhyme with Reason’.

http://livebrum.co.uk/the-oobleck/2015/07/06/rhyme-with-reason

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/event/rhyme-with-reason/

©Murdock Ramone Media

©Murdock Ramone Media

I have been lucky enough to have seen ALL these wonderful fresh blood poets perform around the city and I have tried to make it to the opening night to support them. I missed one launch (sorry Frankie Ryan) as I was on holiday. I hope to make it to more of these events n the future!

Creative Poets on fire!

The Magnetic Diaries Poetry Play – Including Micro-interview with Author

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The Courtyard Theatre – 4th July

I first heard of the Write On Festival when I studied Writing for Theatre with Alan Harris at The Courtyard Theatre Spring 2013. This year Sarah James made an application with her poetry collection ‘The Magnetic Diaries’ mag diary sarah and what happened next was a sequence of events which created a wonderful piece of theatre.

I know theatre, it is what I trained in and worked in until I pulled back my ego and found out writing was something I enjoyed better than the lights and action in front of the camera and there is no doubt about it this was theatre.

Sarah made the decision to use a professional actress Vey Straker and Director, Tiffany Hosking.

The set was  a multi-use masterpiece and the SFX (Special Effects/Lighting) was used to change the whole focus and feel of the piece throughout. Very clever elements of physical theatre sprinkled throughout the performance kept up the belief of place.

I am certain it was a golden egg for The Courtyard and the Write On Festival. We knew we were watching something special. I always like to read the book before there is a film adaptation, so I was thoroughly delighted that I had managed to do so and was looking forward to making sense through theatre, excited at how it would be approached.

Sarah’s face as it was about to start looked like pure nerves, she didn’t need to be nervous of course, but that’s theatre for you!

What was to unfold on the stage had the entire audience captivated. With a foundation of a strong, emotive tale and the unusual concept of a poetry manuscript, combined in a heart wrenching piece of theatre. One that I believe (from suffering depression) could actually help promote mental health, it is possible that people may be able to learn what it is like for the sufferer. I certainly did, that didn’t surprise me… the book moved me and I have been dancing with the Black Dog since before 2011. Other people in the audience had not come with the same insight to the illness and were still affected by the performance. A strong piece. So how did it all come together?

Micro-interview with Sarah James

The-Magnetic-Diaries-full-cover

  1. What were your initial thoughts behind sending a poetry entry to the Write On Festival?

I was simultaneously thinking it’s unlikely they will take something so different while absolutely believing it could be something amazingly different and intense to put on stage. I was delighted, yet almost couldn’t quite believe it, when they accepted it!

  1. At what point was the decision made to use an actress and director?
    As with so many arts project, funding was the biggest block to not using an actress and director – because there was no money except the potential of the box-office split. The script I initially submitted was very much based on the notion of an enhanced poetry-reading, a poetry-show if you like, in which I would therefore play the main character, Emma. This meant the amount of acting possible was limited; I was using a lot of props and some stagey movements with elements of physical theatre. This was what was accepted in January and I tentatively started rehearsing the lines.

Meanwhile in February, the festival organiser had put me in touch with actress Vey Straker who played Emma. Through Vey, Tiffany Hosking from Reaction Theatre Makers agreed to take on directing. I think it was around May when it firmly became a poetry-play with actress and director. Throughout this period, I did quite a bit of rewriting and there was some re-ordering to make it more of a poetry-play, to fit with Vey’s excellent portrayal of Emma’s character, the greater scope Vey’s taking on the role allowed and how Tiff envisaged it working best on stage.

  1. What was the most challenging part of this project?

Probably the ‘producer’ aspects and having to juggle those jobs alongside the creative aspects. I love the creative side, the re-writing, the seeing it through Vey and Tiff’s eyes was fantastic. But in effect, I was also producer as the contract with The Courtyard was in my name. So that was dealing with things like the financial constraints, the marketing, liaising with the theatre. Also the whole finding the line between being involved with the play as writer but not trespassing too far into the director’s realm, which I think is harder if the writer is also part-producer. I was very lucky to be working with an experienced director and actress, so that this was much easier than it might otherwise have been.

But, as we’d still like to tour with The Magnetic Diaries, it could be that I’ve not yet reached the most challenging part of the project!

4) How long did the whole project take?

Well, the original poetry collection that the production is based on was mostly written in the second half of 2013 into the first half of 2014, when I submitted it to my publisher Knives, Forks and Spoons Press. Towards the latter end of this period, I had the idea of also doing a poetry-show version, potentially for poetry festivals and did some recordings in advance with my publisher Alec Newman. But I didn’t start work on the actual script until the latter half of 2014, in case any of the collection poems were omitted or drastically edited. In my head, I already knew how I wanted to link the poems and which poems from the collection I wanted to use, so I created the script as soon as the collection contents was fixed. Then I submitted it to the Write On Festival over the Christmas period 2014-2015.

med sarah james

Thanks for taking time to be interviewed and I really hope you secure funding to tour this work, which would work at Poetry Festivals but could stand as a piece of theatre too.

 EXTRA BITS

From the theatre website and Sarah’s blog.

Summary

A narrative of love, lust, betrayal and depression, The Magnetic Diaries re-envisages the characters and storyline of Gustave Flaubert’s masterpiece Madame Bovary in a modern twenty-first century English, poetry setting. The contemporary heroine, Emma Bailey, battles with romantic idealism, illusions about love, a stifling middle-class lifestyle, boredom and depression.

Moving lyrical fragments and crafted poems reconstructed by fictional researchers from Emma’s diary and treatment notes are set alongside the voices of her doctors and emails from her husband Carl. But will modern medicine save Emma and her marriage in the wake of two affairs?

Written by Sarah James

 © 2015 The Courtyard – Herefordshire’s Centre for the Arts | Reg. Charity No 1067869

http://www.courtyard.org.uk/events/the-magnetic-diaries-write-on-festival/

Oh, what a night…last night’s performance of my poetry-play at The Courtyard in Hereford was one of those memorable nights. Actress Vey Straker was amazing as Emma, and with Tiffany Hosking from Reaction Thaetre Makers as director, they really brought The Magnetic Diariesto life on stage. It was a truly exciting evening,enjoying the production, listening to people’s comments and feeling the buzz afterwards.

© 2015 Sarah James

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?p=6306

A Quick Update

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Since getting back from my holiday it has been a whirlwind of poetry events and work, today I have time to finally make some submissions, in the meantime here is the list that I hope to blog. Some have links for you to check out about the events I have attended or been part of. More to come when I have unchained myself from the offline folder!

Theatre – Poetry Play – The Magnetic Diaries Courtyard Theatre Hereford, 4th July

READ IT HERE: https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/07/20/the-magnetic-diaries-poetry-play-including-micro-interview-with-author/

Rhyme with Reason Nicole Murphy at Alfie Birds, Birmingham – 6th July

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/birminghams-growing-poetry-rhyme-with-reason/

Nadia Kingsley & Keith Chandler at The Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room with Jean Atkin, Ludlow – 7th July

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/07/24/poetry-lounge-in-the-sitting-room-july-7th/

also blogging about Ledbury Poetry Festival, Quiet Compere Stop 6 Worcester, missing Stratford 52 meet, Ten Letters, Writing the Tools Workshop, Mouth & Music and the Pangaea Poetry Slam.

More to come later.

INTERVIEW: The Quiet Compere – Sarah Dixon

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INTERVIEW: The Quiet Compere – Sarah Dixon

I am delighted to share this interview with Sarah Dixon, The Quiet Compere. Ever since I caught the Birmingham leg of the tour last year I have wanted to post an interview with her on the blog – and wishes DO come true, you have known that since my first jump, right?

I asked her all about  The QC – her Arts Council funded project, now in its 2nd year with a possible 3rd year ahead.

It is an inspiring interview and I always feel we can all learn a lot from people who are already out there doing it (Art/ Creativity/ Poetry) – so here is the gold-dust!

ENJOY!

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The Quiet Compere National Tour 2015 – Stop 6

@ The Hive, Worcester

Featuring: The Quiet Compere, Mike Alma, Catherine Crosswell, Myfanwy Fox, Hayley Frances, Jasmine Gardosi, Neil Laurenson, Nina Lewis, Adrian Mealing, Carl Sealeaf, Claire Walker

TICKETS FOR THE WORCESTER TOUR (FRI 10th July) ARE NEARLY ALL SOLD OUT -£5 Book here;

https://www.ents24.com/worcester-events/the-hive/the-quiet-compere-national-tour-2015-stop-6/4324372

Or you can book directly with the venue;

https://e-services.worcestershire.gov.uk/LibraryEvents/EventDetails.aspx?id=75

Fri 10th July at 7:00pm

thehiveworcsorg© 2014 thehiveworcsorg

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QC tour

1) How did you come up with the Quiet Compere (TQC) concept?
My local night in Manchester started life as Lead Poets (in 2008) started off as a night where whoever turned up did a spot if they wanted. Slowly a regular audience developed and numbers were usually between 30 and 40. At this point I limited the number of readers to ten and adopted a 10 poets x 10 mins format (I have since been informed that there was a night called Take Ten in Newcastle about the same time – I was not aware of this at the time).
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
2) How did you approach/research grants from the Arts Council?
I thought the format and the chance to invest in poets in so many regions would appeal, but that it would also need enough planning in advance for any funding body to invest in it. I had a small track record of running events around Manchester, at local festivals and in Cheltenham and Leeds. Having no funding track record it was difficult to obtain match funding from councils and other bodies. I booked all the venues and half the poets before I pressed the SUBMIT button on the bid. This took around 35-40 hours and any work carried out before acceptance on the bid cannot be deemed payable.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
3) How long was the process, what was the toughest/ easiest part?
35 hours advance planning. Submit button. Then the wait – six weeks for a decision. The hardest bit is the waiting. Easiest bit: Deciding to put together a bid.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
4) How long have you been creating the QC tours?
This is the second year. Last years was a tour of the North, though weirdly Birmingham sneaked in (as it feels close – I never realise how south of the north Manchester is 🙂 The National tour is happening in 2015 and the Worcester event on 10th July will be the half-way point of this tour.
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 QCM Sarah L Dixon
5) What aspects of QC Tours do you find most rewarding?
Smooth-running events and I find if you keep venues and performers fully-informed and have the right people and venue the event should feel like it runs itself (but this is because of all the background admin work beforehand).
Bringing together poets from different groups who may not have met/or heard each other perform before. I make a concerted effort NOT to pick the same ten people who perform alongside each other at every local night in the area. I want to find the open miccers who are brilliant but haven’t had a chance to prove this in a ten minute spot, the members of groups who are the ones overlooked and a good dose of regulars on the scene. I attempt to mix performance and page (but this sometimes depends on the poetry dynamic in the area – in Cumbria performance poetry seems to be less of a thing, whereas in Manchester a high number of poets seem to straddle the line between page and performance and their is an audience for both poetry styles).

Bringing people back together. I have overheard conversations that start “I haven’t seen you for years, loved hearing your new stuff…” hoping this might rebuild some poetry bonds and new friendships and connections might be forged and old ones rekindled. This adds a bit of romance to the tour 🙂

Low advance sales are nerve-wracking, but after the Blackpool event I panic less about this. We had sold 1 until the day before, then 5. We sold out a 50 seater venue on the night. The buzz of that relief and the elation that there was a full-house.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
6) How were/ are poets selected?
The tour was in the North of England last year. I find a high number of poets in the North, especially the North West happily travel 1-2 hours to see a line-up they are excited by or to support quality nights. This meant I already knew a vast number of poets in the areas I was going to. I asked my contacts in the areas to recommend poets in the area, with a mix of age ranges, styles and themes in mind. I also searched ‘York – Poets’ online and checked out videos and links to poems by poets from the areas. Having been a part of the poetry scene for thirteen years I have built many contacts I know I can trust. Social Media plays a big part in promoting the tour and keeping everyone updated. I book poets who are not on social media, but it is more difficult to find ways to contact them, so is likely that I have been given an email address by someone I do know (in reality or virtually).
Since I have been planning the 2015 tour I have been part of a number of online communities (where I can get a feel for a poets style over several weeks or months of poems). I am thinking mainly of Jo Bell’s 52 poetry sharing and critique group (which numbered 650) and last year the tour included 30 or so poets from this group, all booked before the group existed. This year around half of the poets booked are from this group. Having access to several examples of the material of the poets makes it easier for me to balance themes, styles and other factors across each event. Also through workshops I have attended at Sheffield Poetry Business Writing Days, two Arvon weeks and Manchester Cathedral Poetry Business days among others.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
7) What are the future plans for QC?

I am presently pulling threads together in an attempt to get a bid in for next year – the final and third Quiet Compere tour – 2016 – the places she missed.

Possibly to set up a quarterly Manchester poetry writing day as I feel there is a demand for this.

For Sarah L Dixon: Getting a pamphlet published and recognition in reputable and/or popular poetry magazines.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
8) What has been challenging/ spectacular about expanding QC beyond Northern regions?
Challenging;
Less knowledge about the area and the audience and the poets/performers and local press outlets.
I have solved this in some cases by teaming up with a local co-host or performer who already knows the area and venues and can suggest some places to search for poets online from the area. 
Spectacular;

The sells-out gigs. The more unusual venues this year – The Old Cinema Laundrette in Durham, The Albion Beatnik Bookshop in Oxford. The venues provide a different backdrop and a more intimate and cosy feel to them than a pub room or a featurelss arts centre space. The venue in Ulverston a week ago had striking curtains. I enjoy anything that links the photos to a place rather than the ‘could be anywhere’ feel.

The chance to meet and bring together some people I feel I know/know each other well from virtual groups and share each others pieces and time
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
9) Why 10 poets?

Why 10 minutes? I found the leap between 2-4 minute open mic to full 15-30 minute guest spots was massive and the longer slots terrified me. At open mic nights I often wanted to hear more pieces by each poet (and found that as I was settling into someone’s style the night shifted and another poet took to the stage. My local night now has 3 guest spots and 5 support poet spots (6 mins each). I changed the format because I wanted to be able to charge a door fee and pay guests with a drink and a 6 minute spot for one guest if they want. None of the performers pay an entrance fee.

Why 10 poets? I think the attention span of a poetry audience starts to wane around two hours in (with a short break) and 10 x 10 had a ring to it.

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10) How has facilitating tours developed/supported your own life as a performing poet?
It has meant I have been offered guest spots I may not otherwise have been offered – because I am more visible. 
I have learnt a lot about Press releases, interviews and how to use Twitter.
I have learnt the value of a colour-coded spreadsheet can also be applied to poetry tours – not romantic, but true. Running the tour has meant I have had more time to write, submit, polish and run workshops and attend workshops as I can carry out the tour admin in my own time.

I have been able to do school drop off and pick ups of my son, Frank, 4. This means we often get 7 hours together each day and a high number of my poems are not about him, but from a phrase he says or a way he views the world that I might have missed had I been working and commuting and not had the opportunity to be with hi, so much 🙂

I have become strict with myself about time-keeping and not spending too much time woffling on Facebook. 

 QCM Sarah L Dixon
11) Can you tell us a little about the rest of the tour this year?
  • Worcester 10th Julynext Friday – Almost on us. Advance ticket sales going well.
  • Hull 4th Sept and Exeter 12th Sept are both at the point of sending flyer details to designer and printer.
  • Camden, Hackney and Norwich – I will be confirming the poets for these events in the next 6 weeks.
  • Cheltenham is the final gig of this year and is the night before the stunning Medicine Unboxed Conference curated by Samiir Guglani. This year’s theme is Mortality. QC HIVE
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
12) Being away from home is….?
…refreshing, different and exciting, 
    Being away from home is… lonely, strange and scary.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
13) Where do you stay on tour?
Last year I felt cheeky asking acquaintances for somewhere to stay, but after a few nights sharing the poetry buzz with a mini bottle of Sainsburys Prosecco (£3 for 20cl), the cast of Eastenders and a cheap B and B room I decided to be cheeky and ask poets if they would be willing to put me up and sharing poetry buzz is lovely, though still for half the dates on the tour this year I feel I don’t know people well enough in area to ask for a room/floor/bed.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
14) What advice would you give to poets who yearn to complete a project?
a) Plan a lot in advance of appoaching any funding body. Prove that you will run the project efficiently and have thought it through (I did at least 35 hours on each bid before submitting).
b) Approach local councils for match-funding. possibly easier after first project when you have a track record.
c) Detail is important. Keeping poets/venues/funding bodies informed at all times.
d) Thank the people who are part of your project as cohosts, venue teams, performers, poets who help promote and thank them personally not in an impersonal message. Let them know you listen and take notes so you can thank them with a few lines of poetry you enjoyed or a particular touch that made the venue unique and memorable.
e) Detail is key to building reputation and brand.
quiet compere 2015 T
15) What are the biggest lessons you have learnt?
a) Don’t cut corners – I am sometimes tempted not to thank poets individually. Thanking ten poets takes between an hour and half and two hours to do this they way I do it. I could cut corners and send a generic message, but it is not my style and detracts from the everyone being treated equally and valued ethos of the tour.
b) I’ve learnt a lot about the importance of press releases and interviews to the get the tour info out there.
c) I find typing up the blogs boring, but necessary.
d) You can’t thank people too much. Thank them on the night. Follow this up with email or message.
e) Remind poets to stick to time at the point you send running order out (7-10 days before).
f)  PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
16) Is the 2015 tour different to the 2014 tour? How? Why?
I suppose, because some of the dates are further afield. In tour of the North I had often met at least half of the line-up, if not more. I know a lot of poets virtually, some through 52, but not their performance style. I have found that now people have heard of The Quiet Compere and it has become a bit of brand I find people approach me to get on board (often at the point when I have already confirmed the line-up and sent flyers to print).
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
17) Who do you read – which poets do you admire/ read?
Magical realists – and this is relevant to my poetry. It is where the weird and dark sneak in and unsettle both me and the audience. Magnus Mills, Tom Holt, Jasper Fforde.

I am presently reading books on an 18th century cholera epidemic and The Black Death and epidemiology and real life murder books fascinate me. Yes, the weird and the dark again.

Poets: My favourite performers at the moment are Clare Shaw (I love her delivery style, her themes and the words she chooses) and Rose Condo (who I saw win a Manchester Poetry Slam final in 2014 by taking us with her into a story and weaving words around us rather than firing them at us – this was my first slam (as audience member) and I didn’t know what to expect).  The list changes every week. I discovered Brian Patten in the last year and love his stuff.

 QCM Sarah L Dixon
18) How did you get into writing poetry?
I wrote as a teenager to make sense of the world. Then thought I had the world figured out. After six years of working full-time and studying for an OU degree part-time in Social Science and Economics I returned to poetry via an NHS-subsidised Arts and Health Creative Writing Course for Staff run by Phlip Davenport in 2002.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
19) What do you miss the most when your touring schedule is over?
I miss the structure and the fact that I am always in three different stages for three different events.

At present I need to thank four more poets from last week’s Ulverston gig and I put the piece of paper with notes of their lines down when distracted by a thunderstorm last week. One of my jobs this week is to find this and thank these poets.

I am in the middle of a last promotion push for Worcester in 5 days time and going to send out the running order either tonight or tomorrow.

I am trying to confirm a last couple of poets for Exeter and Hull and getting the flyers to printer hopefully in time to take them to a 52 poetry picnic on Saturday 11th July, as a lot of the Exeter crew will be there. 🙂

 QCM Sarah L Dixon
20) If you weren’t the Quiet Compere, who would you be?
If I wasn’t Quiet Compere would still be Frank’s Mum, zumba enthusiast (not necessarily good or rhythmical ;)). I told Frank my super power would be not being clumsy – had a clatter on Thursday on cobbles – classic scuffed knees and elbows.  Frank said I can’t have that power as then he would be clumsy all by himself. 
© Sarah Wilkinson 2014

© Sarah Wilkinson 2014

MANY THANKS TO YOU Sarah for taking the time for this interview, I cannot wait to see you and the other 9 QC poets on Friday and GOOD LUCK with the rest of the tour!

COMING SOON – Quiet Compere Interview with Sarah Dixon

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QCSarah Dixon has been touring with this concept for two years now. I was lucky enough to be in the audience of the 2014 Tour at the MAC, Birmingham March 21st.

The Quiet Compere (21/3/14)

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Later in 2014 I was booked onto the current 2015 tour, the Worcester stop. This is the longest I have had to wait for an event and the excitement of it being this week, cannot be described! Not even by a writer!

 

 

 

 

When I saw the HIVE brochure last month it brought it all home, literally!

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After the 2014 Tour I wanted to interview Sarah,  with us both being involved in many projects  it has taken a while for this interview to exist.

I am looking forward to sharing this insightful interview with you all. CHECK BACK LATER – and all will be revealed!

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Life of Poeting

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The beginning of July is a heavy touring schedule which I am delighting in after a week off!

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I went on holiday at the end of June and missed several events, I had (I thought) found an open mic night in a pub around the corner from the hotel. After several emails I discovered the internet was wrong! Shock! Horror!

I had a great break by the sea (as prescribed by The Emergency Poet), had a break from technology too, apart from emails organising the Courtyard trip.

I needed that break because the beginning of July is a 10 day run, 10 events, 1 day off, 2 Poetry Festivals, 5 performances;

4th Hereford – Courtyard Theatre to watch The Magnetic Diaries Poetry Play

6th Birmingham – Alfie Birds – Launch night Rhyme with Reason

7th Ludlow – Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room

8th Ledbury – Poetry Festival

9th Worcester – SpeakEasy – this may have to be missed due to energy levels

10th Worcester – The Quiet Compere Tour (booked 15 months ago)

11th Stratford-Upon-Avon – Poetry Festival: 52 meet/picnic & performance at Shakespeare’s Birthplace

then a mini break in which to write, breathe & teach

13th Birmingham – Ten Letters, MAC – if I can make it

14th Walsall – postponed (from today) workshop Caldmore Gardens

14th Kidderminster – Mouth & Music

 

I will blog when I can about these events, many of which deserve an individual post.

Have a great week,

Keep Writing x